When I was young, we lived in Metairie, La. I went to a private school during my first 6 years in school and you could safely say I didn’t play well with others during this time. I had a few friends and most of them were kids I played sports with. I seemed to not only find trouble at school but I often was the trouble. I don’t speak of this with pride but it’s true. I went to a public school in 6th grade and that made my troubles even worse. My parents decided that we would move in November of my 6th grade year and I think that was my saving grace and probably one of the best decisions my parents ever made for our family. We were finally going to live in the woods on some land in Goodbee, La that my dad had purchased in the mid 70’s. Heaven on earth for me. I felt like I finally had my own air to breathe and no one was breathing down my back.
My mom got a job working for a sod company in Covington. She worked in the office and when summer time rolled around, I got a job there as well. I learned a lot over the next few summers working out there. The owner was different than most adults I had been around. He had a lot of responsibility but seemed that not much bothered him and he was always smiling. He kept asking my mom to bring her family to the church he attended. She told him what religion we were and that we had a church but he was persistent in his invitation. After some time and a few circumstances at the church we attended, my parents decided to take him up on his offer. We went and from the minute we walked in the door we felt like we were a part of a family. I joined the youth group and met a whole new set of friends and we had a lot of fun. This church was different than any other church I had been to. Its a non denominational church. They preach straight from the bible and I had never been in a service like that.
On October 1st, 1989, our pastor was serving as our youth pastor until we got a full time youth pastor. One sunday evening at our youth group meeting, he talked about salvation and how I was saved by grace and not by works. I had never heard that before and it caught my attention. He spoke about how much God loved me and that he gave his ONLY son to die for my sins so that I could have an everlasting life with him in heaven and that the only way to get to heaven was to accept God into your heart and to have faith in him in all that you do. He prayed a prayer with me and I accepted Jesus into my heart that night. To say that I was instantly changed and felt some kind of magical transformation would be a lie but I do know that I felt different and I had a new kind of energy in me.
We got a new youth pastor and he and his wife were God sent. Some of the toughest times in my life, I honestly believe that had it not been for them and that youth group I would have made some bad decisions that would have haunted me for the rest of my life. Our youth group grew and we went on summer trips every summer. We went to Florida for youth rallies, Washington D.C., Mississippi quite a few times and were always growing as a group. I have to say that my favorite place we went was to Mexico on a missions trip. I was very reluctant to go and I tried everything I knew to try to get out of it but my youth pastor would not take no for an answer and I’m glad he didn’t! It was a life changing experience. We built 2 “houses” for some families there. The houses we built were smaller than most peoples sheds and there were a number of people living in these houses. No electricity, no running water, just a floor, 4 walls and a roof. They were so thankful and it really opened my eyes to how blessed I was. It changed my life. One night we hung a sheet in the street and put a projector up and played the Jesus Film in spanish. The film would play on both sides of the sheet and people for miles around came to see this. The street was full and I couldn’t understand a word they were saying but when Jesus took up the cross and started walking, people started crying and shouting and I knew God was working in the hearts of these people. When Jesus died on the cross, these people wept. They had never seen this nor had I! It was moving for me as much as it was for them.
My senior year in school, I quit playing sports at school and took up the sport of riding bulls. I traveled every weekend to a rodeo somewhere and met a lot of people along the way. I rode bulls for 8 years and I must say it was probably the best years of my life! I witnessed a lot of people give their heart to God and get saved and sadly, I witnessed a few people leave this earth due to the sport but I knew they were going to be with the Lord. I quit riding in 2001 when God said that was enough.
I will be honest and tell you that I didn’t always put God first. There were plenty of times that I did things my way or the way the world said was ok and that leads to destruction. The farther away I got from God being my main focus, the worst the lesson learned when I realized my way wasn’t right. I am a sinner and I have no shame in admitting that but my shame is in the fact that I still sin when I know I’m making the wrong choice and I do it anyway. I grow everyday in my walk with the Lord and I will never be perfect but with God as my main focus, I know that I can do all things thru Christ who strenghens me.
I appreciate you reading this and if you don’t know the Lord as your personal Lord and savior and you’d like to, please reach out to me and I promise what we talk about will stay confidential. Shoot me an email, call me, whatever you feel comfortable doing, please let me know. God put the fire in my heart to host this outdoor following and while one of our main focus’ is to be able to bring a disabled child, vet, police officer, fireman, or a game warden on guided trips, the ultimate goal is to have people come to know the Lord and make a difference in peoples lives! Hope to hear from each and every one that decides to join this following and we make the roots to this family grow!
God bless, Shawn